Bluebird Grain Farms

Skip to content ↓ Navigation

by Ashley Lodato, Bluebird Grain Farms staff writer

photos courtesy of Seabiscuit Bakery

Executive Chef and Seabiscuit Bakery owner Sieb Jurriaans was trained at Seattle Central Culinary Academy, but he comes from a Dutch family with a love of European cuisine. His younger years were spent on “Intimis,” a family estate in Holland. “Intimis” is also what he chose to later name his Whidbey Island family farm, which he co-owns with his wife, Jenn.

Intimis. Intimate: familiar, close, cherished—they’re all descriptors of the atmosphere and food philosophy the Jurriaans cultivate at Seabiscuit Bakery, as well as their two restaurants, Prima Bistro and Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar. They source their ingredients as close to home as possible, growing what they can onsite at the farm and leveraging relationships with other local and regional growers and producers who value quality and sustainability. “We’ve always wanted to use as much local and seasonal as possible so what better way than growing it ourselves?” Jenn asks, rhetorically.

Before moving to Whidbey Island, which is in some ways Jenn’s childhood home, Sieb sliced and diced his way through Seattle fine dining: Café Campagne, Bis on Main, Saltoro. But when the Prima Bistro space became available, in 2006, in Langley, WA, “we jumped on it,” Jenn says. And “in 2017 we expanded into the next-door space with our second restaurant, Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar.”

At that point Seabiscuit Bakery evolved organically. For years it was the in-house bakery for Prima and Saltwater, but in 2019 they officially branded as Seabiscuit Bakery and began taking online orders from customers, as well as providing baguettes to a local market. And like so many others in the pandemic-era dining industry, in the fall of 2020, the Jurriaans and their staff got creative. “We pivoted Saltwater to make space for a mixed retail/bakery space that we called Salt & Sea Provisions,” Jenn says. “We provided our fresh baked pastries, breads, packaged products, quiches and more directly to our community – along with coffee, wine, pantry products and prepared items from our restaurants.”

Later, once restaurants reopened in a somewhat “normal” business model, the Jurriaans “doubled down on finding a permanent space,” Jenn says. Serendipitously, the Jurriaans’ longtime friends, business owners, and community members Beth and Gary Smith of Mukilteo Coffee Roasters, offered an opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind coffee roasterie, bakery and cafe destination at their space, formerly known as Mukilteo Coffee Roasters’ Cafe in the Woods at Whidbey Airpark.”

Operating the Seabiscuit Bakery in the former Mukilteo Coffee Roaster facility in Langley gives the Jurriaans and their staff an opportunity to “provide our community with an welcoming space to enjoy our sweet and savory goodies,” along with Mukilteo Coffee drinks, of course. They’ve also been able to increase production capacity and supply more local businesses with baked goods for retail, restaurants, food trucks, and events. And in addition to providing pick-up catering packages, they’ve begun hosting events in their space.

Another part of the Jurriaans’ evolution with Seabiscuit Bakery has been learning to farm. “Sieb basically has been teaching himself how to farm and it’s been a steep learning curve,” Jenn says. “Rather than tapping into the resources of so many farmers on the island, Sieb has chosen to figure it out on his own, learning by doing (and sometimes failing), but it’s been a great experience. [He] has been able to provide the restaurants with a whole lot of home grown produce!”

The Jurriaans’ experience with farming gives them a greater appreciation for Bluebird Grain Farmsregenerative farming practices and fresh-milled organic grain products. Between the bakery and two restaurants, the Jurrians use Bluebird’s Organic Dark Northern Rye Flour, Organic Dark Northern Rye Berries, and Organic Einkorn Flour.

“At this time the rye flour is appearing in our Hippie Wheat bread, which uses a rye starter, whole wheat and bread flour, oats, and an abundance of seeds. The Hippie Wheat has been super popular!” Seabiscuit Chef and General Manager Allyss Taylor says. “We are also testing a rye loaf with rye berries, and a porridge loaf that has a dose of Einkorn flour. By the end of the summer we should have those products on our shelves.”

Taylor and her staff also make a salad with Bluebird’s Organic Whole Grain Emmer Farro on a bed of arugula. “We appreciate the quality and flavor of the Bluebird products,” Taylor says.

What the Jurriaans can’t grow, they do their best to source locally and regionally. In addition to using Bluebird Grain Farms products, they also use flour from Small’s Family farm, which they love for their commitment to sustainability. “We use locally sourced produce when it’s available. We aim to produce top-quality artisan bread and pastries with as many local and regional flourishes as we can manage,” Taylor says.

The bakery and cafe menus provide a balance: fresh greens and root vegetables sharing space comfortably with hearty sandwiches, chocolate babkas and caramel brownies complemented by gougeres and savory scones.

They also serve non-alcoholic drinks, spirits & batched cocktails, and gluten free options

All those loaves and pastries don’t bake themselves, though. To handle the volume of baked goods coming out of Seabiscuit Bakery’s ovens, the bakery employs 11 bakers: a bread team, a pastry chef, pastry assistants, and two bakers that specialize in laminated doughs (those buttery, flaky, airy doughs used in croissants and puff pastries). The bakery staff operates as a collaborative team, with the bakers helping each other as needed as well as cross-training, and the dishwashers, delivery drivers, and four cooks all pulling their weight in the Seabiscuit Café as well.

It’s a well-oiled (or perhaps well-buttered?) team that serves all the restaurant’s wholesale accounts, the substantial volume of special orders, and all the pastries, bread, and food for the busy Seabiscuit Café.

“It takes all hands on deck to get it done,” Taylor says.

To learn more about Seabiscuit Bakery & Co. Cafe, visit their website.